Regulatory Science Watch: Will the FDA Ban BPA?

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Demon or devil?

Environmentalists have been pursuing a campaign to demonize the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA)which is used in some plastics claiming that it has deleterious effects on human health. However, even the highly chemophobic World Health Organization doesn't think that BPA is hazardous.

NPR's Morning Edition program ran a good segment on the issue today which pointed out:

…recent studies done government researchers at the request of regulatory agencies suggest it's very unlikely that BPA poses a health risk to people. And in the past the FDA has relied heavily on this sort of in-house research for its decisions.

In its effort to review the safety of BPA, the FDA called on a high-powered team of government scientists to help answer several key questions.

One is: how much of the BPA a person eats actually makes it into their bloodstream in a dangerous form?

That's an important question because the human body often inactivates potentially dangerous chemicals like BPA as they pass through the intestine and liver.

Once that happens, the chemical is no longer a health risk because it's no longer "bioactive", says Justin Teeguarden, a toxicologist and senior research scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, Washington.

So with BPA, he says, "you may be exposed to relatively large amounts in the diet. But what matters most is how much of the bioactive form actually reaches your blood and your tissues."

Teeguarden studied 20 men and women who spent a day on a diet loaded with BPA from canned foods and juice in plastic containers. He wanted to know how much bioactive BPA would end up in their blood.

The answer: not enough to measure. "If it is present it is below our limit of detection," Teeguarden says.

Some studies that have found quite high levels of BPA in the blood, Teeguarden says. But he questions whether those results are reliable.

The reason is that to get blood levels that high,a person would have to ingest hundreds or thousands of times more BPA than people typically get in their diet.

"The question is, where did that bioactive BPA come from?" Teeguarden says. And he says one likely answer is that the chemical got into blood samples accidentally sometime after they were drawn from a person's body.

"Contamination is a common problem," Teeguarden says. "We observed it in our own study. But because we were monitoring for it we were able to overcome that particular problem."

The studies that found high levels of bioactive BPA in blood used samples collected in hospitals or doctors' offices, not research settings, Teeguarden says. And those studies did not include a common test to detect contamination.

In addition, new studies find that the chemical is unlikely to be a danger to newborns. Let's hope that the FDA will follow the science in this case instead of bowing to the environmentalist lobby.

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  1. Fuck you. That is why.

    1. Update: The EPA said no to banning BPA.

  2. “The question is, where did that bioactive BPA come from?” Teeguarden says. And he says one likely answer is that the chemical got into blood samples accidentally sometime after they were drawn from a person’s body.

    EPA/Environuts:”It was totally an ‘accident’; really, you can trust us.”

    1. What really stuck out to me was:

      Contamination is a common problem,” Teeguarden says. “We observed it in our own study.

      Wha…? You “observed” it? You had a hidden camera and some Intern was doping your samples? How the fuck does this happen?

      1. plastic syringe, plastic vials

        1. Not so much that, vials and syringes are usually glass or polypropylene (although the polystyrene in most petri dishes and multiple well plates leaches a zoo of xenoestrogens), but things like thermal tapes in lab equipment, shopping receipts in researchers’ pockets, hot stamp inks on equipment…

          1. Candy wrappers?

            1. They don’t make candy wrappers out of polycarbonate, but if they’re decorated with hot-stamped ink, yeah, lots of BPA there.

      2. Wha…? You “observed” it? You had a hidden camera and some Intern was doping your samples? How the fuck does this happen?

        I’m guessing, they got some results that raised questions (like “where the fuck did all this bioactive BPA come from?”), audited the hell out of their process, and discovered a source of contamination.

  3. “Let’s hope that the FDA will follow the science in this case instead of bowing to the environmentalist lobby.”

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

    1. Name me one other time that the government generally (or the Obama Administration specifically) has based its decision on the wishes of a powerful lobby rather than the clear facts of the matter.

      1. Tax code, bailouts, thorium, etc.

  4. This is my particular research specialty. One HUGE issue is background- there’s so much BPA in the environment, controls are questionable. It’s omnipresent. And most in vivo models are for shit because they only look at endpoints for one species, with limited information on exposure effects for different concentrations and at different developmental stages. Worse, they don’t at all take into account potentiation and synergism from multiple chemical exposures. They are almost all done by “classical” toxicologist operating under the “dose makes the poison” paradigm, which is crumbling more and more with time.

    (more)

    1. On the other hand, BPA’s binding affinity to the estrogen receptor isn’t all that great. There are a lot of worse xenoestrogens out there- the “BPA-free” claims are bullshit, not because there’s BPA in those items, but because the materials used to substitute for BPA-containing plastics (polycarbonate, epoxies) often contain other xenoestrogens or mixtures which are more potent than BPA. The focus on the single chemical rather than overall endocrine disrupting effects is (IMO) extremely unwise. But hey, that’s your government in action.

      1. Thanks.

      2. There is also the environmental damage of this stuff being everywhere.
        I saw a report on frogs, who are much more susceptible, being given trace amounts and basically becoming almost-sterile hermaphrodites. A large dieoff of frogs would certainly affect the food chain.

        Incidentally I wondered if it all has something to do with the apparent increasing sterility among humans.

        1. I blame the spread of porn and the consequent increase in testicular drainage among adolescents.

          Fred vom Saal was infamous for the “shortened alligator penis” research.

        2. Yeah, the transgendered community is totally freaked out about that and have theorized that the rise in the number of transgendered individuals is due to BPA contamination. Srsly.

          1. I would guess that that has far more to do with the decreased likelihood of getting the shit kicked out of you if you identify as transgendered. But you never know.

        3. the apparent increasing sterility among humans.

          I googled this to find any source material referencing this data

          Your own comment came up as #5. There wasn’t one source that suggested sterility was rising among anyone.

          I call bullshit, and think you need to stay away from the movie Children of Men.

          1. Studies like these are the source of this…

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm…..000961.pdf

            While they really talk about a decline in reproductive health in men, I think you are calling “bullshit” a bit too easily.

  5. Whew!

  6. OHMYGOSH – so now the one-world govt WHO is aok? pls update ur dist list, didnt get this memo either like cancelling climate chg. >throws monocule from back deck like a frisbee

    1. derp de derpity derp

  7. DENIERS! ALL OF YOU! (Points like Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers)

  8. In addition, new studies find that the chemical is unlikely to be a danger to newborns. Let’s hope that the FDA will follow the science in this case instead of bowing to the environmentalist lobby.

    Note to science reporters. If you say the words “new studies” or “new study” you are obligated to cite the study properly or provide a link to it. Otherwise, you should substitute the words “I think I heard something about this once from some guy who told me.”

    1. NM: I usually do but have time pressure today – suggest you check out NPR story and Google Scholar the studies.

      1. And yet you had time to write this comment. So even Reason staff use H&R comments to avoid actual work. Interesting.

        =/;^)

        1. NM: Just for you.

        2. The reporters at the NPR site did their job properly and have provided direct links to the studies.

          Take note science reporters.

    2. In addition, new studies find that the chemical is unlikely to be a danger to newborns.

      Note to science reporters: when using the words “new studies find that” …you are obligated to follow that with words that summarize what the studies ACTUALLY FOUND. The NPR reporter does a reasonable job of that. Bailey’s single sentence does not.

      The NPR reporter adds an important caveat.

      The studies by Doerge, Teeguarden and other government scientists weren’t intended to prove that BPA is safe.

  9. BPA CAUSES AUTISM IN BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Obviously, we need to be vaccinating children against BPA.

      1. I hear that you can catch BPA from toilet seats.

        1. also you can catch teh gay from toilet seats so pray it away!

  10. Will the FDA Ban BPA?

    Only if it can destroy at least 1% of GDP with the action. Small Potatoes otherwise.

  11. “Let’s hope that the FDA will follow the science in this case instead of bowing to the environmentalist lobby.”

    But I don’t trust science.

  12. “Regulatory Science Watch: Will the FDA Ban BPA?”
    Let’s hope so it has been found to cause AGW…right Bailey? Aaahhhaaa!

  13. BPA is suspected to cause extremely early – eg as young as age 3 – pubescence among girls:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04…..al.html?hp

    One concern, among parents and researchers, is the effect of simultaneous exposures to many estrogen-mimics, including the compound BPA, which is ubiquitous. Ninety-three percent of Americans have traces of BPA in their bodies. BPA was first made in 1891 and used as a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. In the 1950s commercial manufacturers started putting BPA in hard plastics. Since then BPA has been found in many common products, including dental sealants and cash-register receipts. More than a million pounds of the substance are released into the environment each year.

    1. The writer of that article managed to discredit it by adding in a lot of quack stuff. Pitiful, but it’s the NYT, so you can’t really expect any better.

  14. Better dead than Red

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